Honda's sporty wheels still a draw for car thieves

December 28, 2017

Honda Accord Sport

When thieves struck a Honda dealership in Monroe, N.C., in June, they swiped wheels from Accords but left behind the new cars. Thefts like these are behind climbing insurance losses for late-model Accords with sporty rims, HLDI analyses show.

Vehicle theft and other noncrash losses, such as hitting a deer or getting dinged in a hailstorm, are paid under comprehensive coverage. At first blush, these claims might not seem to be as worrisome as getting into a crash, but they aren't without cost. There are deductibles to pay, tow trucks to hire and time lost waiting for repairs.

Wheels are enticing theft targets because like many vehicle parts, they lack identification markings, making them harder to trace and easier for criminals to unload.

HLDI has been tracking the problem for several years, reporting on high theft losses for Accords, as well as the Honda Fit Sport. HLDI recently updated theft loss results for Honda's popular midsize sedan, finding the frequency of claims per 1,000 insured vehicle years for Sport and Touring models is sharply higher than baseline Accords.

Higher theft losses for the Accord began appearing in HLDI data when Honda introduced the four-door Sport, which has 18-inch alloy wheels, in the 2013 model year. Honda added 19-inch alloy wheels on the 2016 Accord four-door Sport and Touring models and introduced a Sport Special Edition model with 19-inch wheels for 2017. Other Accords have 16- or 17-inch wheels.

In its second report on Accord theft losses, HLDI compared losses under comprehensive coverage for the 2016 and 2017 four-door Sport model and Touring model to other four-door Accords, as well as other passenger vehicles. The results are based on exposure and claims through April 2017.

Two main factors determine comprehensive losses. One is how often claims are filed (claim frequency). The other is how big the claim payments are (claim severity), which in this case reflects the cost of replacing stolen components. These factors combine to indicate overall insurance losses, or average loss payment per insured vehicle year. The overall loss is the average cost of insuring a vehicle for one year, excluding administrative costs.

The frequency of theft claims for the 2016 Accord Sport was more than 7 times as high as the Accord LX, and the frequency of theft claims for the 2016 Touring model was nearly 4 times as high as the LX. Overall losses followed a similar pattern as claim frequency. The frequency of claims for Sport and Touring models with 19-inch wheels was more than 12 times and 6 times, respectively, than the average for all-other passenger vehicles.

Claim size amounts, including the deductible, were concentrated in the $3,001–$4,000 range for 2013–15 Sport models with 18-inch wheels in both the current and 2016 HLDI studies—about the cost of replacing four tires and rims. For 2016 and 2017 Sport and Touring models with 19-inch wheels, claim size peaked slightly higher in the $4,001–$5,000 range. The higher claim amounts for the newest model Accords may be because 19-inch tires are generally more expensive than 18-inch tires.

HLDI analysts also looked at how the Accord theft claims were distributed across the U.S. New York had the highest percentage, with 37 percent of 2013–15 Sport model claims, 24 percent of 2016 Sport and Touring model claims and 31 percent of 2017 Sport, Sport Special Edition and Touring model claims. Florida had the second-highest percentage of claims for the 2013–15 models (10 percent) and 2016 models (16 percent). California had the second-highest percentage for 2017 models at 20 percent.

Estimated difference in theft claim frequencies: 2016 Honda Accord 4-door models with 17-inch and 19-inch wheels vs. 2016 LX models with 16-inch wheels

State distribution of Honda Accord theft claims by model year

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